Thursday, December 8, 2016

The pain of psychological problems

Illnesses are never easy regardless physical or mental - let's set that straight.

What people don't know is that psychological problems could be as bad or even worse than physical ones. It's hard for people to understand psychological problems because we often only understand as real what we are able to perceive.

With physical illnesses, we can see the virus, the disease, the pain, the wound, the threat. We empathize because what we perceive is equivalent to what they perceive. We understand and are therefore more inclined to lend compassion and sympathy for those with physical illnesses. We tend not to blame them because we see it as the virus' fault, the wound that is hurting or the genetics they were given.

When it comes to psychological issues, we tend to approach it very differently. We don't offer sympathy because we don't see any physical threat. It is more often approached with hostility instead of compassion. Instead of empathizing with them, we hold them responsible for whatever they're in. We think it is purely self-created since this time we see it as the mind's fault. Because everything is physically fine in their lives, we have stripped them of the right to have problems.

What people fail to understand is that beyond existential reality, it is perception that shapes our reality. Regardless of what is or what is not, in the eyes and minds of those suffering psychologically, the threats and suffering are as real as they are immense.

It is worse because they are not seen as sick, they are seen as weak. They have to walk around in their everyday lives as if everything is fine. They could be talking, smiling, and have everything going for them in the physical realm, yet behind that skull, their world is crashing and burning. And no one will ever know, because no one will understand. This is what makes psychological problems a silent but deadly killer. This is what makes it so scary.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Should You Do Well In School?

I've always had a great deal of resentment for school. Now I say this fully aware that everyone (or almost) does not like school. So when I say I've had a great deal of resentment, I'm mean I really did, even comparatively.

My resentment was never with waking up early or doing homework. Sure, I don't like them and they probably added to my resentment. My resentment was however with the pressures and moralization of doing well. I looked (and still look) at everyone around me working so hard towards getting good grades and all I saw (and see even more so now) is an abundance of neurosis. It didn't help that everyone looked at me not as this boy who has his own opinion on life but instead as a lazy immature child. Put it simply, I saw others as neurotic while they saw me as lazy. The difference is I never imposed my will on others but the world was very enthusiastic about imposing theirs on me. Of course now I recognize all of the good intentions but as a child who was greatly misunderstood to be lazy while actually thinking everyone else is doing something very wrong, I couldn't help but feel an intense frustration with the entire system.

PSLE grades were recently released and I'm in the midst of (enjoying) my finals, making these observations ever so glaring. Seeing how this society is founded on academics, more specifically grades, I can't help but feel something is very wrong. Perhaps my greatest frustration is not over the importance grades have in society but instead society's moralizing and imposing of its importance.

By imposing the need for good grades and moralizing hard work, we have taught children to work hard not because they are going after something they want but because it is the "right" thing to do and bad things will happen if they don't. We have taught kids how to ignore their own human nature emotions and desires, and instead do things they would rather not. We have taught kids to move from a place of fear and not a place of strength. We have taught kids how to be neurotic. We have taught kids how to be unhappy.

Have you ever thought about it? We all know we get unhappier as we get older and we always accept it as a fact of growing up and "maturing". Yet if we were born as happy beings and it is clearly our natural state as illustrated by children, something must have caused this change, isn't it? We don't just become unhappy because we have existed longer on this Earth. Things happen to us. Things like the moralizing and imposing of hard work and good grades. The continuous teachings and pedestalizing of success and hard work. We have taught the next generation how to join us in chronic unhappiness.

Perhaps the learning should be inverted. We ought to learn from children. They know the secrets to being happy without the need for stimulus from the environment.

Today I look around and getting a B grade have most students of all levels feeling a lack of success, a level of unhappiness and sometimes even a failure. I see these students and I ask myself "Why are they so unhappy? They just scored a B!(which equates to 60-70% in most cases) they are 70% well versed in the subject, isn't that beautiful?!" Now certainly there are bell curves in certain cases so a B could mean anything but it usually indicates a decent level of proficiency in the subject. Why aren't students happy about it? Worse still, why are they unhappy about it? The answer is society. Society has taught us that this is a competition and you better not lose. Society has taught us to compare and base our worth on those around us. Certainly it is a competition, if you decide to compete. It's never about how you do but how the rest of society is doing that will eventually determine your future isn't it? This mentality is self-fulfilling. It is because you think this way that it becomes true. Sure, if you don't do well now, you may never get into the next level of education. But why did you want to get there in the first place? To do the same thing so you can again move to the next until eventually get a well paying job. Oh you think it ends there? No, you will apply the same mentality to climb the ranks. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it is true you cut off your options but you only feel you needed it in the first place because of this mentality. And in this regard, it is a competition, because you got your goals all wrong. Your goals are all wrong because of the moralizing and imposing of hard work and good grades.

So should you do well in school? Should children do well in school? The answer is simple: whatever makes them happy. Perhaps the only education they need is awareness, not moralizing. That is to be aware of the benefits working hard can bring, presented in an unbiased manner and at the same time, the negative impacts hard work can bring, again in an unbiased manner. Instead of the moralizing our society takes part in - pressuring students who are fairing not as well to study harder, referring to them as weaker students, criticizing "lazy" students, punishing those who do not do their assignments and of course just straight out preaching. These are all examples of the moralizing society and the educational system has done.

At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves what do we really want? Why do we do what we do and why do we want what we want? It is there that you proceed from.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Are we running towards something or away from something?

I believe human nature, no matter how neurotic one becomes, remains unchanged. Everything comes down to basic math. Whatever it is we do now, we believe that the opposite is worse. That is to say, we will only put ourselves through something if we believe we will be worse off if we do not do so.

If we put ourselves through happy, joyful and blissful activities that make us happy, it is because we believe that if we didn't do it, we won't be as happy - very logical. So too is the same when we choose to put ourselves through discomfort. We believe that if we did not suffer this discomfort, we will have to suffer an even greater discomfort.

This is where the concept of delayed gratification becomes exploited in everyone's life. Masked as something good instead of bad, it is rationalized as suffering today for a better tomorrow - the social mark for a mature individual. Yet what it really is, is the running away from a perceived worse-off tomorrow instead of a perceived better tomorrow.

I use the word perceive because we act based off what we think and not what is. Sometimes, these two are in line but sometimes, they're not. Because they are not in this case, people become neurotic. They are running, some even sprinting, away from something they perceive to be but does not exist. It's like trying to run away from ghosts. It doesn't exist but you constantly think its only an inch behind you so not only will you have to keep running, you better accelerate. Yet in reality, there is nothing behind you. (I'm working with the assumption ghost don't exist....)

This fear of a worse-off tomorrow if we don't work hard today, it is of no basis. Its legitimacy lies in a few key areas: everyone is doing it, you learnt it from young, you learnt it from people you trust or respect(parents, teachers, etc) but they are also neurotic, it is reinforced by authoritative/powerful figures (governments, capitalist, etc) because it serves their purpose. (ok really been learning too much sociology)

Yet, it is of no basis. Really. Now all the arguments otherwise can be convincing. In fact, this race that everyone is running have led to so many individuals accumulating a wealth of knowledge in language, debating and what not that many could easily whoop my ass in a debate.

So instead of debating with me, try this: today, you act as if this fear did not exist. So you will continue to behave in way that you believe if you did not do so, you will be worse off. Except now that might mean doing things you like or just doing nothing. I guarantee you enjoyed today better than your last few days. The only possible reason you did not is the neurotic mind of yours is eating up at you with anxiety, thinking you will be worse-off for not suffering now so you cannot actually enjoy you day. But lets pretend that's not a problem. Now you do this everyday and you stop only when you realize that your fear-of-no-basis comes true. That is to say you finally are really worse-off right now than if you were neurotically sprinting away from ghosts everyday. If you think about it, that day never really comes.

Now don't get me twisted. I am not a radical. I am simply seeing things for what they are. I'm not anti hard work or anti work. I'm not saying your life will be so amazing just by doing this. This is just simple logic. And if we follow the logic, all I am saying is much of our fear is imaginary - it has no basis. Now, certainly some fears are legitimate. The fear that if you don't do anything you will die, yes that's true. You need to eat and drink water and to do that a certain level of work is required. Then again, why fear death? But let's not go too far shall we.

Perhaps all I am suggesting is before we blindly run, we be conscious of why is it we are running. That maybe it'll serve us better if we walked and enjoy the view, take a nap if we're tired. Running from ghosts can be quite exhausting.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The bearded experience

Growing a beard has a lot more to it than it seems. It is a journey and an experience. You'll get to see how people you know react to you differently (or who are the ones able to pretend there's nothing different at all) in both negative and positive lights. You'll also get to see how meeting new people is different than when you didn't have a beard.

So most east Asian can't really grow beards; Chinese especially. I can say I can just barely grow a goatee(that sadly does not connect). Maybe it'll change with time but that's me now. I've grown out my beard for 4 months and the journey is more than I've bargained for.

One of the most common questions I get is why I decided to grow it out. As with so many questions in life the answer is never that simple. The biggest reason that got me to do it was watching some video on YouTube (I don't remember what vid) and someone said "if you can grow a beard, you owe it to yourself to grow it out at least once in your life time". The really resonated in me and I thought why not now.

I didn't just grow it out because someone on some video said I should though. That was more of a push. In many ways it felt like something I had to do for myself. In a form of self discovery and soul searching kind of aspect, I just had to grow out my beard and see another side of me.

It also was a symbol of patience and persistence for me that I wanted to experience. I'll tell you first hand that the resistance a 21 year old Chinese Singaporean will face when growing a beard will be strong. Also, it takes time for a beard to grow out and in that time will be what many call "awkward phases" where your beard just looks awkward hence the name. And there will be many days you doubt your beard will ever not look awkward and that's when most guys end up shaving. So it definitely takes patience and persistence.
The current beard 

Here are some other interesting experiences/observations when growing out a beard:

Socializing - Does a beard aid or hurt me in socializing? From what I have experience it just makes things more extreme. That is to say, when faced with people I've never met before, the ones prone to socializing will find it even easier to socialize with me because the beard is a great topic. While those who are as it is not a big fan of socializing, perhaps the beard comes off as a further deterrent of socializing.

Maintenance - As far as maintenance goes, it really depends on individuals. You can buy the most premium beard oil and beard balm and beard wax and beard trimmer and beard combs and mustache wax etc or you can do nothing. Personally I'm closer to the nothing scale. In fact I wanted to not touch the beard at all but I end up doing so with minimal trimming after about 2 months just to clean it up. I apply oils every once in awhile. Combing is on the daily.

Eating - So it has been said that napkins are a beardsmen best friend and it is true. My beard isn't even that long but it has made me more conscious of it as I eat. Depending on what I'm eating sometimes I wipe my mouth after every bite I take.

Stroking - Yes one of the best things about having a beard is being able to stroke it. Either for fun or maybe I just wanna look wise af when I'm in class. Either way stroking one's beard is just awesome.

Comments - All day everyday I get all kinds of comments and questions.

Looks - So I kinda always looked older than I am as it were in the past. Before growing my beard, the common guess was 24-26 years old. After growing my beard it is 28-30s (damnnnnnn). I even had an elective class where seniors thought I was not only older than them but a graduate student going for my masters or phd. Yeah, that old.

Self-love/ A test of confidence - Perhaps one of the very positive experience is learning to love yourself and being confident in whatever you have. Every beard is going to be different and it is common for guys to set goals when growing out a beard. However most beards never turn out the way we want/expect them to and for some, not even nice at all. But learning to love whatever you got going and not giving in to that little voice in your head and shaving it the very second you feel its not as good as you want it to be is a form of growing stronger.

So how long will does beard stay? Only time will tell!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reality Distortion: Self Agenda

I did bring up reality distortion and perception in previous posts. This is another look at it from another angle(non-conflicting angles).

Reality is distorted in so many ways and this false perception we create for ourselves is the root of most or if not all problems we seem to have. Today let's just talk about how it is distorted through self-agenda.

We have 2 kinds of self-agenda: The kind you're conscious of like when you decide to take part in an event to expand your social network and the kind you're not conscious of. This is the tricky one because we are so blind to it, we fail to see that we are the cause of things we wouldn't want in our lives. This is what we are focusing on here.

Let me demonstrate how self-agenda distorts reality. Imagine you are holding up an apple you just bought from the supermarket in your hand and looking at it. What most people see is a distortion of reality. People would see more than just an apple, they see food. They see more than just food, they see big/small apple. They see vitamins and health benefits. They may even see "good" or "bad" apple.

Keep in mind there are many factors that distorts reality and that we are looking only at self-agenda. Our self-agenda has distorted reality because the reality is what lays in our hand is just an apple. It is the bearing of a tree that is round and red in colour. Its purpose was not to serve us as food or to give us any vitamins. It's just an apple but our hunger and desire for sustenance has let us to rubricize objects into many different categories based on our own self agenda which distorts reality. We start to see an apple for what it means to us rather than what it really is.

This may seem harmless on an apple but when we translate this to our lives, it makes a difference. Take for example when someone says something that disagrees with/disproves something you believe in. The only reality that is available to us is what he has said. In fact to be more precise, it's the sound and noises his body is producing and we are distorting reality by making sense of these noises but that's beyond self-agenda distortion so let's not go there.

So reality is this person has spoken. Now because it challenges our ego of thinking we are smart and we perhaps have based much of our lives on what we believe, we have the agenda to preserve this image we have of ourselves and protect what we believe because we don't want to have put in so much work based on something that isn't true so we distort reality by turning hostile and seeing this person as "stupid" or "arrogant" or so many other characteristics that would either downplay him as a person to devalue what he has said or downplay him as a person just to feel better about ourselves in general thus accomplishing our agenda of preserving our ego. Yet all this happens so subtly we see none of it. All we see is what our agenda has let us to see causing us to go about creating conflicts, fights and problems for ourselves.

Negative self-agenda is usually brought by having an underlying issue. For example, a person with low self-esteem would often distort reality to either reconfirm what he thinks of himself or to again protect the ego and this leads to negative emotions and/or situations. Regardless, there is always self-agenda whether good, bad or neutral. It pays to be aware of all of them to develop self-awareness which goes a long way towards self-development. Mindfulness as I have talked about in my previous post is critical towards realizing our own self-agendas.





Reality Distortion: Self Agenda

I did bring up reality distortion and perception in previous posts. This is another look at it from another angle(non-conflicting angles).

Reality is distorted in so many ways and this false perception we create for ourselves is the root of most or if not all problems we seem to have. Today let's just talk about how it is distorted through self-agenda.

We have 2 kinds of self-agenda: The kind you're conscious of like when you decide to take part in an event to expand your social network and the kind you're not conscious of. This is the tricky one because we are so blind to it, we fail to see that we are the cause of things we wouldn't want in our lives. This is what we are focusing on here.

Let me demonstrate how self-agenda distorts reality. Imagine you are holding up an apple you just bought from the supermarket in your hand and looking at it. What most people see is a distortion of reality. People would see more than just an apple, they see food. They see more than just food, they see big/small apple. They see vitamins and health benefits. They may even see "good" or "bad" apple.

Keep in mind there are many factors that distorts reality and that we are looking only at self-agenda. Our self-agenda has distorted reality because the reality is what lays in our hand is just an apple. It is the bearing of a tree that is round and red in colour. Its purpose was not to serve us as food or to give us any vitamins. It's just an apple but our hunger and desire for sustenance has let us to rubricize objects into many different categories based on our own self agenda which distorts reality. We start to see an apple for what it means to us rather than what it really is.

This may seem harmless on an apple but when we translate this to our lives, it makes a difference. Take for example when someone says something that disagrees with/disproves something you believe in. The only reality that is available to us is what he has said. In fact to be more precise, it's the sound and noises his body is producing and we are distorting reality by making sense of these noises but that's beyond self-agenda distortion so let's not go there.

So reality is this person has spoken. Now because it challenges our ego of thinking we are smart and our agenda to preserve this image we have of ourselves, we distort reality by turning hostile and seeing this person as "stupid" or "arrogant" or so many other characteristics that would either downplay him as a person to devalue what he has said or downplay him as a person just to feel better about ourselves in general thus accomplishing our agenda of preserving our ego. Yet all this happens so subtly we see none of it. All we see is what our agenda has let us to see causing us to go about creating conflicts, fights and problems for ourselves.

Negative self-agenda is usually brought by having an underlying issue. For example, a person with low self-esteem would often distort reality to either reconfirm what he thinks of himself or to again protect the ego and this leads to negative emotions and/or situations. Regardless, there is always self-agenda whether good, bad or neutral. It pays to be aware of all of them to develop self-awareness which goes a long way towards self-development. Mindfulness as I have talked about in my previous post is critical towards realizing our own self-agendas.





Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dealing with negative emotions and events with mindfulness

Why is mindfulness important? It can help you from making all the wrong decisions in life that you will later on regret. It can help you feel better instantly if you're experiencing negative emotions. It can help you better understand your inner self for you to do inner work and self-development and become a better person.

My biggest take-away from my journey of self-development thus far is not only learning about mindfulness but being able to practice it when it is most useful.

Mindfulness is being aware about everything that happens, especially internally in your psyche and your emotions, as they are happening to you, while remaining neutral and non-judgmental. It is a higher state of consciousness where you learn to be in control instead of simply reacting to everything that happens as your body presents you with emotions and thoughts.

Mindfulness is much like taking a step out of yourself at any given moment, bringing nothing with you - no emotion, no thought, no past, no future. From there you will observe yourself being and remaining non-judgmental as a neutral third party. You will be able to see how your emotions are affecting you, acknowledging that any negative feelings are just emotions - they will pass - and so too will the positive ones. You will be able to observe how all your thoughts, opinions and perceptions on everything in life are all affected by your emotions and ego thus are not true and vice versa.

First let us recognize that there are different levels of consciousness. At the lowest level, we are only conscious of our physicality. We operate using only our 5 senses. Thankfully, humans do not operate at this level or we would be zombies. We all operate at least a level above where we live in our thoughts and emotions. In fact, most people believe they are their thoughts - that voice in their own heads. Which isn't true but that's for another topic.

There is a higher level of consciousness above that and mindfulness is the tool and act of achieving it. Your thoughts and emotions are not reality. Reality would be the highest state of consciousness one can achieve. You see, reality is what is happening out there. Your perception of reality is never reality - it processed through many layers before being interpreted.

What are the layers? There is a whole list of them and that would bring us too far off this topic. To help you understand this topic, here are some examples: The constraints of your(and the human race's) knowledge. That is to say we have not yet acquired everything there is to know about the universe and thus we interpret everything based on what we know but who knows how much is left out or misinterpreted. Then we have your ego that I spoke about in one of my previous posts. It acts as a filter and write its own script for you. Beyond that we have emotions, they interfere with our thoughts and how we perceive reality depending on our emotional status. Your thoughts are filters as well, a new thought will be affected by an old thought you might have. Your past experiences and yadayada. There's a whole list of filters that distorts reality but let's try to stay on track..

Mindfulness is when we rise above all of these layers. When we practice mindfulness, we are not removing the layers. Instead it becomes a choice after you have gain awareness over them, if you wish to change/remove any layer. Filters, like your emotions and thoughts, are still present when you practice mindfulness. You simply become aware of them without being judgmental.

For example: You were scolded by your boss at work today and on your way home you were caught in a terrible traffic jam. You go home and a family member is talking too much and you feel like exploding at him/her. Mindfulness is being aware that your agitation is not a reality and is not even justifiable based on the current situation. Instead, it is your emotions you went home with that is causing you to be easily agitated and makes you believe he/she is talking "too much" but in reality, they are just talking. You recognize it without judging yourself, and give yourself the opportunity to make an informed decision on how you wish to react instead of simply exploding and regretting later on.

It is almost like a buffer between emotional surge and reaction. Mindfulness can also be used to deal with negative emotions itself rather than just the reaction. First let us understand how negative emotions work. Usually we have a trigger - it could be anything, from a thought to a sight, a smell, or anything we dislike. This trigger will cause a negative response in our emotional system. This negative emotion now feeds into our thoughts and distorts reality as mentioned before. Thus making us perceive reality negatively and start having negative thoughts that feed back into our emotional system and its a vicious cycle and a downward spiral to feeling like shit.

With mindfulness, we would be able to recognize our negative emotion and through consciousness, put a stop to the destructive pattern we have found ourselves in before it escalates and we find ourselves in our shit hole.

Knowing what mindfulness is can be very helpful but sometimes, when the negative event/emotion comes, all these concepts go flying out the window. The only way to become a master of mindfulness is to cultivate it.

Firstly, understand it fully. I hope I have done a good job describing it but find out more on it. I have read multiple books and hours and hours of videos on mindfulness I don't believe I could have just summarized everything in one short post. Next, practice it. Don't wait till you need it then wished it was there when it's too late. Mindfulness can be practiced at any given moment(and you should too, it opens your eyes to a new world of understanding yourself). Practice it when you're happy, when you're watching a movie, when you're having a conversation you enjoy and dislike, etc. And finally, meditation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Unlocking Happiness: Philosophy or Psychology?

The aim of this post is to open you to the idea that you could actually be so unaware of your own motivation system that it forces you to build consciousness and awareness over it, thus enabling you to work on it and be happy!

So let us imagine computers. Let's say you own a computer for the sole purpose of editing videos. You're using Windows operating system and running software X to help you edit videos. Today I come up to tell you "I see you're having problems with editing your videos using software X, why not go for software Y?"

Let us assume these are the only 2 software available. Now software Y runs on a Mac operating system. Clearly the underlying interpretation of switching to software Y includes switching to a Mac. Why? Because we are conscious and aware of the different operating systems. What if we're not? What if we are speaking to a computer dummy?(I'm hoping you're not)

Then your response will pretty much be "Software Y doesn't work. I tried installing it, it doesn't work. Sure, on paper it sounds good but in reality, all its features mean nothing because I can't install it."

Well, that's as close as a metaphor I can give to illustrate my experience when speaking to people with regards to philosophy on happiness. Except it's even more complex when it comes to philosophy and psychology.

In this case the operating system is like you, your psychology. The software is your philosophy on happiness. And editing videos? That's happiness.

Except when we talk about happiness it goes even deeper. Your psychology is structured based on your philosophy of happiness. How you interpret and understand happiness determines how you operate on the very subconscious level. It leaves its mark on your beliefs, your motivations, your desires, everything that you are conscious and unconscious of.

Think about it: everything you do is for happiness. We established that in the previous post. Everything you do. That clearly shows how much your philosophy on happiness is going to be written all over your psychology. Imagine today your salary is $10k, you've been working your whole life to save up to $1m. Tomorrow money has no value. The world operates on commodities. Get it? The meaning of money changes and suddenly your whole life is incompatible.

Which brings us back to our key and door lock problem. I'm not a locksmith so I don't know, but let's assume the key is cut based on the shape of the lock. Obviously that key isn't going to work on other locks. It was designed specifically for your lock. It's exactly the same thing with philosophy and psychology.

If you are unaware and unconscious to the fact that your motivation/belief system is simply a system that you designed subconsciously over years and you try forming opinions on a different philosophy on happiness, obviously it's incompatible. It's like trying to use your car keys to open your house door. But if you aren't aware of the existence of the keys and you only ever see the doors, you would think only one door in this world works, except in the case of unhappy individuals, it doesn't either.

Well, people only ever see the doors(philosophy on happiness) and not the keys(your psychology). That's the key to happiness. (Mega pun intended)

Monday, July 18, 2016

HOW TO BE HAPPY IN LIFE

No matter what I do, it always seem to come back to this one topic - Happiness.

As I have been on my journey of self-development I have broadened my perspective on this matter. It was really nice to know that everything new I've discovered sorts of ties in with what I already understood and feels as though I always felt this way but never knew how to put in into words.

Now let us just look at this from the very basic.. Everything we do, our end goal is happiness. You want that new deadlift PR because you believe that means you are stronger which you believe will make you happy. You want that job promotion because you believe that means your salary will increase which will enable you to pay off your debts which you believe will ease your stress which you believe will make you happy. You want success(monetary/status) because you think that will make you happy. You want new clothes because you think that you'll look good and believe that will make you happy. You want to donate to charity because you believe either a) Someone in need will benefit and/or b) to feel better about yourself/what you're doing/what you've done because you believe that will make you happy.

For most your motivation comes from conditional happiness. In other words, if you were to be unconditionally happy, you will have absolutely no motivation to do anything. Why is this important? This illustrates that your psychological wiring from the very core is designed based on a concept of happiness that isn't actually helping you to be happy. What is this concept? I'll get to that later. Now, some people are going to get this and some people are not. What I've found extremely difficult in sharing this perspective with others is because most people are focused on the philosophy of happiness, which granted is involved here BUT another huge area is your own psychology. You see, if you comprehend this philosophy of happiness with your current psychology(which is what most people do) their response will always be the same. That is it all sounds nice to the ears BUT "what about abc? What about xyz?".

So do realise that the journey towards being happy isn't just understanding happiness and having the best philosophy about it. It's also about understanding your own psychology, realise what your motivations are and realise that if you hold your psychology constant, fixed and unaware of it while attempting to see a new light towards happiness, chances are it wouldn't work. Because it's like trying to buy a new key to your door lock after you lost yours. It wouldn't fit. You've to change both. This has been the number one hurdle I have faced in all my years of trying to explain this to others(well finally I THINK I managed to explain how to understand what I'm about to explain) (Fuck this complexity).

Before I get to the crux of the content let's get one last thing out of the way. Relating to what I've mentioned above... IF at any point in time while reading you feel these sentiments: "So you're saying I should just do nothing, sleep all day and never work to be happy? Then who's going to look after me? What about my family?" - Stop reading, and start challenging your psychology. This is philosophy and psychology we are discussing here. In no discussion of philosophy and psychology will you ever find specific instructions on what to do, or not even general ones for that matter. It all comes back down to your interpretation. So if you feel like based on the philosophy, you would be doing absolutely nothing then ask yourself why that is so. Look to your own psychology and motivation/beliefs systems for answers.

Okok... NOW let's begin..

So like many years ago.. like thousands of years ago the greek and roman philosophers were talking about happiness and they came up with a really neat way of understanding the different types of happiness.

We have hedonic happiness which is better referred to as pleasure. This form of happiness is very shallow and lasts for a short period of time. Things that bring about hedonic happiness are things like sex, gossiping, vacation, alcohol, drugs, money, success, acing an exam, hitting a new PR in the gym, shopping, etc. Usually things that excites us and appeal to our physical senses(though not always).

Then we have at the other end of the spectrum, eudaemonic happiness. In contrast, it is longer lasting, a lot deeper and it usually comes from things like living up to your values(which some don't even have), living honestly(by that I mean to yourself as well), living up to your potential, being virtuous, having a higher level of consciousness, having a purpose greater than the self.

Of course there are the in between where you will find things like working hard at your passion(not to satisfy the ego or that would be hedonic happiness), being healthy, those kind of things.

Needless to say most people go after hedonic happiness because it offers the most immediate sense of happiness that we believe to be the only kind of happiness. Unfortunately, this form of happiness cannot be sustained forever or even predominantly. Most of them are probably triggered by a release in hormones anyway, and by that logic, simply cannot be sustained. Eudaemonic happiness on the other hand is a lot more subtle but a lot deeper and doesn't disappear after awhile.

Do you believe you can be happy unconditionally? Do you believe you can happy even after you've been robbed? Do you believe you can be happy after you lost your job? Do you believe you can be happy despite *inserts whatever makes you unhappy*?

You probably don't. And the reason for that is because your whole psychological wiring and motivation/belief system is based off hedonic happiness. You constantly seek happiness that can only last for a short period of time. While the majority of the time you spend chasing and the moment something doesn't go your way(which let's be practical, it probably always doesn't), you are really unhappy. Whilst someone whose motivation is based off eudaemonic happiness, despite negative events, are still experiencing the same happiness. Now of course these are extreme examples and there will probably be some sense of displeasure but you get the point. The happiness is still underlying despite momentary displeasures(which will probably last a lot shorter too) while chasing after hedonic happiness is quite the opposite - underlying dissatisfaction despite momentary pleasures. Does this sound like yourself?

If you link this philosophy to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, you will find that it is very much in coherent with each other. Maslow and the ancient greeks and romans, whoever they were, both agreed that there was a need for a higher sense of happiness.

Now that we've touched on the concept of happiness, let's move on to focus on psychology. Now you might say "but I have a higher purpose. I want to be successful so that I don't burden my parents" or "I want to be successful so that my family will be well off".

Firstly, be honest. Not to me, to yourself. And I mean really honest. Is this the truth? I'm not saying it's not but be honest. Ask yourself: Is this really the reason I do what I do? Or do I do what I do and find myself a worthy reason to justify my hard work and sacrifices(both to me and those around me)? Think about the way you perceive money, salary, job title/rank/position. For most, those statements were probably BS. If it's true, well, good but maybe not, we move on.

"I must have _________ then I CAN be happy". Whatever that is, fill it in. Conditional happiness.  Yes, back to this but from a different perspective. But now we look at your belief system. First of all, that is what you believe to be true. When you get _______, will you really be happy? If your psychology remains the same, probably not. Think about it. Person A says, I need a million dollars in my bank then I'll be happy. Yeah, he'll be happy when it reaches a million but that's hedonic happiness. Do you really think he's set to happy for life? Where's the sense of fulfillment going to come from for the rest of his life? Spending that million? It'll last for awhile too(shopping aka hedonic happiness) but the thrill will wear off and even if it doesn't, the money will.

What about supporting/having your family? Sure, that sounds more noble. And I'm not saying don't. This could very well be a goal of yours. But there's a difference between "I MUST then I CAN" and "It's a goal I'm working towards". Conditional happiness is when you think result abc MUST happen before you can/will be happy(hedonic) whereas unconditional happiness is when you're already happy(eudaemonic) and result abc is a goal that gives you a higher sense of purpose in what you do that brings along a sense of eudaemonic happiness. It's important to differentiate the happiness and it's source here. One comes from achieving the goal and is hedonic and the other comes from having the goal and is eudaemonic.

This ties in with living in the present moment as I have spoken about before in the rat race. We always do something we dislike now for what we think will make us happy in the future. This usually leaves us very unhappy - it's a no brainer, you will forever be doing unhappy things now for the future that never actually comes. And we can go into the whole topic as there's no such thing as the future, it's a concept, blahblah but well, if you have read this far I assume you're able grasp this concept already.

People always think I'm telling them to not do anything when I tell them to live in the present moment. Yet I never ever recalled telling anyone to do such a thing(or there lack off)! Why? I crafted out a philosophy and a psychology. They interpret the philosophy neglecting the psychology thus bringing us to the key and door lock metaphor. Based on my philosophy and their motivation/belief system, ie motivated by hedonic happiness and conditional happiness, living in the present moment would be disastrous! They will literally hope from drugs and alcohol to shopping then some sex, sleep and repeat! Which is unsustainable, duh.

You see most people are motivated by hedonic happiness and conditional happiness. Hedonic happiness well I don't think I need to explain why that motivates people. It's addictive because it is pleasure and sometimes people just don't know there's the existence of a deeper sense of happiness. As for conditional happiness, it is really the fear of unhappiness rather than happiness that is motivating people. If I don't achieve ______, I'll be unhappy. That's really what's going on deep inside. The problem with this is people will be willing to do ANYTHING to achieve ______, even if it makes them unhappy because they believe that they're already unhappy until they achieve it. And the bigger problem with this is it's a mentality, a motivation system. So no matter how noble ______ may be, it's not the goal that's flawed, its the psychology. And if you just picture this, you'll see how clear it becomes that its a flawed system. There is no win here. It's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy: it is because you think you won't be happy until you achieve ________, therefore you do things that make you unhappy to achieve ________ which does really does make you unhappy now. And when you do achieve _________? You start over again with something else, because that's how your motivation system works. As proven by people thinking living in the present moment means doing nothing.

So how to be happy? Hedonic happiness isn't necessarily bad, but keep it to a minimal. Adopt a different philosophy towards happiness(like the one above) while addressing your psychology/motivation system by doing a lot of inner work and reflection. Live in the present moment.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Ego and Mindfulness

If you haven't read my previous post, you should do so before reading this.

What really is the ego? What do we mean every time we say someone has a big ego? Is the ego bad? Why is this even important?

As simply as possible, the ego is how we perceive ourselves, more so at the unconscious level. As mentioned in my previous posts, it's who we believe we are; all our traits, characteristics from inside out. In many ways, it's a reflection of who we actually want to be but already deep down think we are.

Hurt. Ever felt that before? 99.9% of the time hurt comes from a challenged ego. When you were a kid, did you feel hurt when you parents didn't buy you a particular toy? You cried, didn't you? It hurt. You never asked why, you just accepted it and let that hurt be masked with a secondary emotion: anger.

Now, think about it. Why were you hurt? Because you didn't get the toy? No, you never had the toy your whole life you never felt hurt until this point. So why? Because you feel your parents don't love you? Close, but not quite there yet.

You were hurt because your ego was challenged. You thought that because they didn't buy you that toy, they didn't love you which you believed meant that you were not worthy of being loved. Your ego was bruised because you thought you were not worthy(which you are actually). It can sound stupid now and it's not age that makes you see it as stupid, it's simply because you are not in the situation. You face similar situations but in different areas of your life now that you're older.

So when person A says person B has hurt him, what really has happened is person B has done something without the intention to hurt but in the process has challenged person A's ego and person A reacts by being hurt. Person B didn't actually hurt person A, person A is hurt because of his own ego.

Here are 2 facts about your ego:
1) It distorts reality
2) This is the good news: It isn't real. It's an idea, a concept.

Now we get to the interesting concepts that you will need to read very carefully in order to catch it.

Your ego distorts reality. It is like a filter between what is really out there and how you perceive it. Take for example you decide to meet someone at 5pm. The person is 45 minutes late and now you're thinking, "I mustn't be important to this person that's why he/she isn't making an effort to be on time."

Reality: The person fell down on the way and had to get the wound dressed and is now limping to where ever you are.
Your "reality": I'm not important enough for someone to show on time to meet me.

Now maybe someone being late isn't your thing, isn't your trigger point. Maybe you're always late so you never get to encounter this and this may sound stupid to you. But it certainly happens to a lot of people. And it may not be this specific scenario, but it most probably happens to you too in its own form; whatever really "gets to you". Just do some reflection about anytime you had "negative" emotions. Think hard enough and you'll see it.

Now, this may sound really stupid to you, even if it does happen to you. The reason it still happens is because the thought process is so fast and unconscious that we almost skip it and move straight to what comes next: the emotions - Hurt, anger, anxiety, whatever. If you were aware of your thoughts, your ego, the distortion, it would sound so stupid to you, you wouldn't feel that gush of negative emotions. If you were aware, we call that being mindful. That is a big, big part of my self-development/inner work - mindfulness. Take this as the very tip of the iceberg of what mindfulness is and what it can do for you, I'll dedicate another post to mindfulness.

When someone is egoistic he is usually self-centered and narcissistic. Well, that's what everyone's ego is, regardless "big" or "small". The filter distorts reality to write stories and scripts as they happen FOR or TO YOU. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Things don't happen to you or for you. They just happen. It is the ego that is so self-centered and narcissistic that sees the world as revolving around the ego itself, ie YOU. Now, nothing wrong here, no need to feel bad or beat yourself up if that's you. Recognize it, recognize it's not your fault(not everything is about you remember?) and work on it.

Needless to say a big ego and a low self-esteem is a formula for not disaster but really, Armageddon. Not only will you perceive everything as it is for or to you, but you will perceive negatively to feed your low self-esteem believes about yourself.

So really there are 3 ways to work around all of these. Work on the ego part, work on the esteem part and become more mindful.

Now here's something for you to realise, if you haven't already, about the ego. It's not real. Who you think you are, everything you think about yourself, the person you think of when you say "I", its all garbage. It's an idea, a concept. Realising this is actually considered a form of realization in the self-development and spiritual world.

Again we will use mindfulness to see. Remember how reality was so different from "your reality" in a previous example? Well, reality of who you really are is again different from who you perceive yourself to be. Your ego are the stories you tell yourself. The expectation you lay onto yourself. It is not who you are. You just are... just as how the world just is... you are a part of this entire mechanism we call the universe. The world does not revolve around you, nothing happens to or for you.

Your laptop of smartphone that you're viewing this from... it just is. You are the one that gave value to it and label it as a laptop of smartphone and decided if it's "useful" or "useless". The way you see things, you are constantly looking at it from a perception of self, but the self does not exist. You never see anything for what it is, you see everything for what it means to you as though its purpose of existence was meant to serve you.

Through practice and mindfulness, one can detach oneself from the ego and perceive reality without distortion. Some distortion may be(or only seem to be) harmless, but many of them, proven in the example earlier, can be destructive. For a start, just look at whatever is around you for what it really is and not what it is for you. Stop giving things labels.

Also, try perceiving yourself from a bird's eye view. One that goes higher and higher up all the way until you see the shape of Earth and the other planets and beyond. This exercise should help you realise how you are in continuous motion with the universe, not a separate entity your ego has you believing. Nothing happens to or for you. Everything happens with you.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The solution to all your problems - Inner work & ego

Problems problems problems.. Do you feel like there's always something wrong? Today you feel lousy about being fat, tomorrow you feel sad/angry about your past and the next day all is good except you just lack a sense of fulfillment? Or are your problems more "physical"? Tough times? We all got them.

I've recently embarked on a journey of self-development and I've discovered some really eye opening concepts that makes me realise where most of my problems(or any problem anywhere) stem from. What's crazy is after learning these concepts, I see its real life application everywhere and although I'm reluctant to share this(because its a personal journey), I feel it could benefit a lot of people out there. Also, just a good way to digest my own thoughts by writing(or typing) it down - Something that's part of self-development anyway.

This is a huge topic so I'll be splitting it into many posts(hopefully I don't stop after one or two posts, we'll see). The first big revelation I had about self-development is what it actually is; If you asked me a year ago what self-development is, I would say it's building up character, learning to be a more hard working and driven individual etc.

What I came to realize is quite different; those are very shallow ideas of what self-development is, which in my opinion makes it entirely wrong definitions. Those are the side effects of self-development but not what self-development is in itself.

A better word for self-development would be inner work. As the name suggests, its really about working on yourself from the ground up. Physical attributes, character, behaviors.. these are all the outer layers. They are the indicators and the symptoms for what really lies deep beneath. When you really get to the core of yourself, your esteem, your ego, your psychological wiring, your past, those stuff... those are the inner stuff.

Those are the stuff that are responsible for making you happy but more often than not, because we fail to take care of them, responsible for your problems/suffering.

Through inner work we realise that a lot of our problems are actually our own doing. You start to make sense of what it means to "take responsibility for everything that happens to you". That phrase goes deeper than merely accepting all blames and faults because its somehow going to make you better. No, it's realizing why it really is your responsibility and your sufferings are really your own doing.

Identifying that there is a problem is the first step to fixing it. Most people go round and round in vicious cycles in life never truly ending their problems or suffering, thinking that's life. They don't realise there is a problem to fix and instead treat every downward spiral in life as a tragedy blaming it on others, life and sometimes themselves but in the wrong way and never with the intention to look deeper. Now there's nothing wrong here. If that's you, don't beat yourself up for it or you would be doing exactly what you're beating yourself up for.

Here's an example of inner work: One of the biggest areas that need work for people is the ego. The common understanding of the ego is quite warped. When people hear the word ego they immediately picture this person in their head that is attention seeking and has a lot of "pride". What ego really is, is the "you". Is who you believe you are. All your ideas about who you are from the bottom to the top, from character to looks. It is the "I" you think you are. It is your perception of yourself; who you believe yourself to be.

A lot of people are more egoistic and narcissistic than they themselves realise. I don't mean it in the conventional way where you walk around with such a big ego etc but really in a more subtle way. You see, the conventional idea of ego and humble are really just very shallow ideas. Not everyone deals with a bruised ego the same way. A "humble" person might have a huge ego as well, he just doesn't show it but instead deals with it by keeping it inside. It doesn't make his ego any smaller, it just hides it from plain sight, including his own.

Take for example being rejected by someone. You notice how some people are able to treat it like is: she just simply isn't interested. Everyone has their own preference and not everyone has to be interested in you. Move on with barely a thought.
While you notice some people treat it like a drama show. They are angry, they are hurt, they are sad. And they just can't seem to accept the fact they have been rejected. They get depressed. It appears as though they are so desperate or what not. And all he can think about is the girl.

What really is happening is the second person simply has a big ego and written in that ego is that everyone likes him. He think he is very likable. So by being rejected, he sense of self, his identity, his ego and his very being is being threatened here. And because the ego can be something we unconsciously hold very close to ourselves, its as though his very existence is being threatened. Now he's not who he thought he was, he starts feeling threatened or even anxious and it creates this 'fight or flight response'. Which is where a lot of anxiety and depression problems arise. So when he think his problem is with the girl and that he really likes her or that the he needs her and it seems as though everything is about her... the truth is its all about himself. It's really a "me" problem he is dealing with.

Inner work is identifying problems like these and rectifying it. Easier said than done but definitely doable and worth it. In this case, working on the ego is a start for inner work. The ego is actually such a big and interesting concept that really deserves a post on its own which will be my next post should I choose to continue.

Note: I'm not a master on inner work and I'm going through my own journey. It can take a lot of courage to admit to yourself that you have certain areas that need work or to admit to yourself you've an ego problem etc, but it is well worth it.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happiness - a self fulfilling prophecy

Happiness is really simple: Want nothing, have everything, be happy.

Why then are so many people in a constant struggle to be happy? A question I've pondered upon for years, having experience both happiness and the lack of it myself as well.

I thought of just about everything. Could it be greed? Constantly wanting more and thus never being able to be content with the present moment. Could it be society? Was it because we were taught to constantly strive and thus we became chasers that never learnt to just sit down and appreciate what's here. Maybe its denial? We worked so hard at something that we refuse to acknowledge its the very thing causing unhappiness.

I think greed is only the surface and society has its flaws but it's not the cause. Denial only makes getting out harder but it isn't a cause either.

I think the lack of value we place on ourselves is the problem. Self worth in itself doesn't bring us happiness but the fact is, happiness comes from within. The only time we can be happy is if we believe we can be and for that to happen, we need to believe we are worthy of it for us accept our own happiness from within. The lack of self worth causes us to believe we cannot be happy because we don't think we are worthy of having happiness within us - that happiness belongs only to those who are "great".

For most of us when we were young our parents showed us love unconditionally and our sense of worth was at its highest. As we grow older we are taught to be independent. Love is showed still but a lot more subtly and we learn not to accept so much "pampering" as we try to become independent. We even realize the love is unconditional, and deep within our consciousness we began to doubt all that self worth we once felt.

This explains why we were so happy when we were young and as we get older, things change. Now we began to attach our happiness to places we learnt to attach our self worth. Good grades doesn't make you happy. Good grades makes you feel a sense of worth. It is this worth that allows you to believe you can be happy and thus you are. Happiness was always there inside of you, its whether you allow yourself to embrace it.

Good grades is different for everybody and changes throughout each person's life. You may attach your worth to the number of friends you have, to your success, to your job, to your salary, to the number of likes you get on instagram, to another person, or to the combination of everything above.

The more conditions you require yourself to fulfill to achieve self worth the harder it is to be happy. But really, its quite simple: Want nothing, have everything, be happy.

Happiness is within you; you have everything you need. Why want anything more? Be happy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Your very own home gym with Lazada Coupons and ShopBack

"If you really want something, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse."

In my experience, consistency and certainty are two of the most pivotal factors in successfully achieving my fitness goals. Consistency builds momentum and certainty removes the stress and worry of a failed plan. Together, they are critical for motivation and thus, success.


I know what it's like to really really, really wanna go for a run but before you can even put on your shoes, the smell of haze or the sound of rain has already stopped you. With such environmental factors, you can never have the certainty that you will be able to fulfill your plan and it can throw off your consistency and derail you from your path to success. Well, lucky for me I have a punching bag just a couple of meters from where I sleep.

If you're looking for a treadmill, elliptical, punching bag or even dumbbells or foam rollers to help you be consistent with your progress, remember to get the best deals at ShopBack better yet, get Cashback! Yes, get cash back!

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So if you're looking for gym equipment, just enter a site like Lazada (get Lazada promo for some of the best deals) via ShopBack, find the equipment of your choice and checkout! Simple, isn't it?

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This MuscleCeption post is brought to you in partnership with ShopBack.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Rat Race


Just watched the video above and it left me with the need to express.

People always have the idea that to leave the rat race, you've to become your own boss. And all I see around me these days are people with their "brilliant" business ideas that are all apparently going to be a hit. Suddenly everyone has their business idea. Everyone's leaving the "rat race". And it seems we're going to be out of employees pretty soon.. People no longer have to deal with joblessness, now businesses are going to deal with 'employeelessness'.

Leaving the rat race to me isn't leaving the system that's in place. It isn't running away from the crowd. At least not physically. Rat race isn't a physical phenomenon, it's a mental one. It is the inability to be still, to be contented and to be fully in the present moment.

The race is in our minds. We are unable to be still. We have to constantly strive. Aim to be the best, aim for that promotion, keep on aiming. Why? Because we are unable to be contented with what we have. We get that promotion, but we're only happy for a moment. Then it fades and we go back striving, unhappily. Why? Because we are unable to be fully in the present moment.

We constantly think about the future. In fact, some of us plan them so well. It's almost as though the more detailed your plans for the future are, the wiser and more "matured" you are looked at by today's standards. Everything we do today, is for tomorrow. Everything we do now, is for later. But tomorrow and later never comes. It's elusive. What we have is here, today and now. And that's all we will ever have.

We make decisions about the future based on the even more distant future and our predictions for them, And everything we do now is a result of that decision we made.

Sometimes people ask me "What are you going to study in uni?", upon my reply they will ask me "What are your prospects afterwards?" or "Your prospects are limited.". And the truth is I haven't given much thought to it and I'm not going to. I chose what I wanted to do not where I wanted to go.

I have no plan. Plans not my thing. The only rat race is having plans. Because like it or not, when we make decisions prioritizing the future, we are stuck in a mindset that has learnt to constantly make us suffer now. And now is all that we will ever have. That's the rat race.

It doesn't matter if you become your own boss. You just become a bigger rat. But you're still racing.